England could be hit by more riots next summer – possibly during the London Olympics – without urgent action to tackle their causes and to improve policing in potential flashpoints, a Government-commissioned report warned yesterday.
It said some factors behind the looting, such as poverty, joblessness and grievances about the police, remained potent problems in parts of major cities.
The investigation by the independent Riots Communities and Victims Panel also protested that victims of the violence were struggling to receive compensation. Darra Singh, pictured below, the panel's chairman, said: "While deprivation is not an excuse for criminal behaviour, we must seek to tackle the underlying causes of the riots or they will happen again."
Maeve Sherlock, a panel member, said interviews in areas hit by trouble uncovered widespread anger over inequalities and injustices, with people pointing to bankers' bonuses and the MPs' expenses scandal. They felt "too many people and organisations were taking more out of the country than they were putting in and this was having a corrosive impact on our society", she said.
The panel was set up by Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, after the August riots which spread from London to other cities such as Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool. It said there was no single motivation behind the trouble, with looters ranging from criminal gangs to late-night shoppers and opportunists caught up in the mayhem. But it warned: "Few people ruled out the prospect of riots in the future."
The panel concluded that pictures of the initial riot in Tottenham, north London, which followed the fatal shooting of Mark Duggan by police, suggested that the authorities had lost control of the streets and "encouraged people to test reactions in other areas".
It concluded that had the police been "more robust" in Tottenham and the rest of the capital, then the violence might not have broken out in other parts of the country. The panel is due to present its final conclusions in March.Reuse content